EU Fines Tech Companies $1.92 Billion For Screen Price-Fixing

Posted Dec 5, 2012

The European Union has fined a total of $1.92 billion for conspiring to fix the price of cathode-ray tubes (CRTs) in two separate cartels between 1996 and 2006.  The European Union antitrust regulators established that CRTs represented 50-70% of the price of a screen.  LG Electronics, Philips, Samsung, Toshiba, Technicolor, Panasonic, and MT Picture Display worked together to share the market for CRTs, fix prices, allocate customers, control their output, and exchange sensitive materials.

One cartel had focused on color picture tubes used in TVs and another cartel focused on color display tubes used in computer monitors.  Some of these companies participated in both cartels like a Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company called Chunghwa.  Chunghwa received full immunity because they were the first company to come forward with information about the anti-competitive practices.

Technicolor, Toshiba, Panasonic, and MTPD participated in the TV cartel only.  Chunghwa, LG, Philips, and Samsung participated in both.  Technicolor, Philips, and Samsung received fine reductions of 10, 30, and 40% respectively.

The companies knew that they were breaking the law and were being careful to keep their practices hidden.  One document actually said “Everybody is requested to keep it as secret as it would be serious damage if it is open to customers or European Commission.”